Making a Fresh Start with Daily Notes

Use this Monk Manual-inspired technique to kickstart your day with intention, gratitude, and hope.

Making a Fresh Start with Daily Notes
Photo by Braden Jarvis / Unsplash

Each morning presents us with the opportunity to start afresh. I've found a few things that really help me get my day going. I wake up. I meditate. I do some writing. But, the thing that has really kept me grounded lately is a morning intention-setting practice that I call "Daily Note."

For this practice, I use a great note-taking app called Craft. I've combined it with an Apple Shortcut so that it automatically creates my Daily Note and links it to my calendar. It's handy, but you don't need any of that fanciness. All you need is something to take notes on: notebook, journal, some app on your phone or laptop. Up to you!

"Daily Notes" consist of three major sections:

  1. Intentions & Priorities
  2. Notes
  3. Links

I'm not going to worry about the ladder two in this post because they are more about keeping notes throughout my day and tracking helpful things I find on the Internet...not exactly pertinent to this conversation.

So, let's zoom into "Intentions & Priorities."

Intentions & Priorities

This is a practice that I largely stole from the good folks over at Monk Manual. I love their product, but after going through a few Monk Manuals, I realized that I needed something digital.

(NOTE: I have not really been able to effectively replicate their Weekly and Monthly pages, but the Monk Manual daily pages work well for me in Craft. ALSO: I would wager that handwriting these Daily Notes would be a more effective practice, but I'm prioritizing the digital convenience...for now. Perhaps I'll go back to Monk Manual...)

In the screenshot below, you'll see the blank page.

Here is my blank Daily Note document. I have an Apple Shortcut called "Create Daily Note in Craft" that does this for me automagically each day.

Today's Theme

I begin with a theme for the day. Typically, this is just some sort of goal or intention. It's often something I wrote in my morning pages. Lately, I've been going back and forth between two different themes:

This. This. Just this.

This theme is a reminder to stay present. Don't worry about what's happening beyond this moment.

Let go of results.
Lean into the practice.

As I've been working on projects for It's Not Working (Yet), I've found myself leaning hard into the idea that the practice is what we need: meditation and writing practice for me. We can't worry about the outcomes of these practices; we just have to trust the process. If I "lean into the practice," then results might come. If I don't lean into the practice, however, then results certainly won't come.

Today's Priorities

In this section, I list three things that I really want to accomplish today. Sometimes, these are actual tasks: "Work on a blog post." At other times, though, they are a bit more abstract: "Enjoy today."

Whatever I want to be my priorities for the day, I write them down for the sake of writing them down; it helps me keep them firmly in mind. PLUS, since I use this document to take notes throughout the day (hence the "Notes" section mentioned above), I see them often.

Simple Questions: Gratitude and Hope

Lastly, I write down something I'm grateful for today and something I'm looking forward to.

Expressing gratitude here is like a mini metta practice. It just puts my heart in a grateful space, a space where I'd really like to live from more often, to be honest.

I started asking Gus every morning what he was looking forward to that day. This always led to fun conversations, usually about aspects of his school life that I wasn't privy to. Though I had done this dozens of times in a Monk Manual, I had stopped. I wondered why I wasn't asking myself this question anymore, so I started back up!

Taking note of what you're looking forward to creates a little bit of hopefulness. It forces us to take stock of where we're headed that day. For me, it creates a little signpost that says: "Don't be afraid by joy today. You've got good things coming up."

Here's today's final product:

Yes...I want to strum along to Radiohead today. Nothing wrong with that!

That's it!

I just wanted to take an opportunity again to thank the folks at Monk Manual. Though I'm not currently using one, I've found their product valuable. I also enjoy Monk Notes, the Monk Manual blog.  Check it out!